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078 – Genesis of the Daleks
Doctor Who serial
Genesis of the Daleks.jpg
Davros unveils the first ever Dalek, using remote control
Guest stars
Writer Terry Nation
Director David Maloney
Script editor Robert Holmes
Producer Philip Hinchcliffe
Executive producer(s) None
Production code 4E
Series Season 12
Length 6 episodes, 25 minutes each
Originally broadcast March 8–April 12, 1975
← Preceded by Followed by →
The Sontaran Experiment Revenge of the Cybermen

Genesis of the Daleks is a serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was originally broadcast in six weekly parts from March 8 to April 12, 1975. It marks the first appearance of Davros, the creator of the Daleks.



Intercepted while travelling between Earth and the Ark, the Fourth Doctor and his companions are transported to the planet Skaro on a mission for the Time Lords — to prevent the creation of the Daleks.



Part One

The Fourth Doctor finds himself walking through a cold mist, suddenly encountering another Time Lord. The Time Lords have intercepted the transmat beam he and his companions were riding at the conclusion of their last adventure to give the Doctor an assignment. Foreseeing a time where the Daleks will dominate the universe, they want the Doctor to avert their creation or find some weakness in their makeup. To that end, they have transported the Doctor and his companions to Skaro, the Dalek homeworld, giving the Doctor a Time Ring that will return him to the TARDIS when his mission is complete.

Finding Harry and Sarah, they explore the battlefield, the Doctor theorising that the war has gone on for generations, explaining the regression in technology as resources grow scarce. In the distance, they see a domed city. The trio enter a trench and are caught between two squads of combating soldiers. Harry and the Doctor are dragged into the bunker, and an unconscious Sarah is left among the dead.

The soldiers are Kaleds, who are fighting a war of attrition with the Thals for dominance of Skaro. The Doctor notes that Kaled is an anagram of Dalek. They meet General Ravon, the leader of the Kaled army and Security Commander Nyder, who disbelieves their story about being aliens, as the Kaleds' greatest scientist, Davros, has said there is no life on other planets. Nyder takes custody of the two for interrogation.

Meanwhile, Sarah wanders into the wastelands, unaware that she is being followed by Mutos, the exiled descendants of those mutated by chemical weapons early in the war. In a crumbling structure, she sees an old and crippled man, Davros, his lower body enclosed in what appears to be a sophisticated mobile chair that resembles the bottom half of a Dalek. Davros is accompanied by his assistant, Gharman. As Sarah watches, a Dalek trundles forward and on Davros's command "exterminates" some targets with its weapon....

Part Two

Davros and Gharman leave; Sarah is taken prisoner, first by the Mutos and then by Thal soldiers. They take her and another Muto, Severin, to the Thal dome as slave labourers. In the Kaled bunker, the Time Ring is confiscated. The Doctor and Harry are taken to a scientist, Ronson, who is startled to find out they are indeed aliens. Davros arrives with his "Mark III travel machine", which detects the Doctor and Harry's non-Kaled physiology. However, before it can kill them, Ronson switches the Dalek off, pleading with Davros that the prisoners may hold valuable information.

In the Thal dome, Sarah discovers that the Thals are building a rocket that they hope will bring them victory in one decisive strike. The slaves are packing the rocket's nose cone with distronic explosives, but without shielding, the exposure will kill them within a few hours.

Ronson confides that some of the scientists believe that Davros's research has turned immoral and evil. Davros is increasing the rate of mutation of the Kaleds, experimenting with creating their final mutated form and putting these "ultimate creatures" in travel machines, which he is now calling Daleks. The Doctor offers to tell the Kaled government about the experiments if Ronson helps them escape.

Sarah organises an abortive escape attempt among the slaves. They try to climb up the scaffolding but many Mutos and Kaled soldiers are killed in the process and Sarah falls off the scaffolding, screaming....

Part Three

Sarah is rescued, but soon the Thal guards catch up to them and the survivors are recaptured. The Doctor and Harry meet with the Kaled Councillors, including one named Mogran, telling them about how in the future the Daleks will terrorise the universe. The Councillors agree to stop Davros's experiments until an inquiry can take place. However, Nyder's own spies report this meeting, and he informs Davros.

The Doctor and Harry find out that Sarah is in the Thal dome, and make their way there. Meanwhile, Davros seems to take the news from Mogran well, but subsequently orders twenty Daleks to be activated and placed under computer control. Nyder and Davros then meet with the Thal leadership. Davros claims he only wants peace, and is willing to give the Thals a chemical that will weaken the Kaled dome and allow the rocket to work.

The Doctor and Harry overhear this meeting, but continue searching for Sarah. They overpower two guards and steal their radiation suits, entering the silo to free the slaves. The Doctor sends Harry, Sarah and Severin to warn the Kaleds while he sabotages the rocket. Before he can do so, a guard activates an electric grid, stunning the Doctor into unconsciousness....

Part Four

The Doctor awakens in the Thal control room and watches helplessly as the rocket blows up the now-weakened Kaled dome. In the bunker, Davros vows "revenge" and orders the Daleks to execute Ronson as a traitor, who gave the Thals the chemical secret. Davros declares the Kaled race dead and the rise of the Daleks as the supreme being and ultimate conqueror of the universe. He orders Gharman to implement new variations to the Daleks' genetic structure that will remove all pity and conscience. Gharman carries out the orders, but he is obviously disturbed by this development.

Daleks enter the Thal dome and begin killing people, but the Doctor manages to escape together with a Thal woman, Bettan. He tells Bettan to gather what survivors she can and destroy the Kaled bunker. The Doctor also finds Harry, Sarah and Severin, who did not manage to reach the Kaled dome before it was destroyed. Severin goes with Bettan, and the others go ahead to retrieve the Time Ring from the bunker.

Gharman tries to organise a resistance against Davros but is discovered by Nyder. The three time travellers are also captured when entering the bunker. The Doctor is interrogated by Davros, who wants to know about the future, in particular what mistakes the Daleks will make that will allow them to be defeated, so that he can correct them. If the Doctor does not answer, his friends will suffer. As the Doctor's friends are tortured, Davros demands answers from him....

Part Five

The Doctor reluctantly answers Davros's questions. The Doctor pleads with Davros to stop the development of the Daleks but to no avail. The Doctor asks Davros a hypothetical question: if he had invented a virus that would destroy all other forms of life on contact, would he use it? Davros considers the question and observes that the power to make that choice would elevate him above the gods, and he would do it. The Doctor, convinced now that Davros is mad, blackmails Davros into halting the development of the Daleks by threatening to switch off his life-support system, rendering him defenceless by restraining his one usable arm. However, the Doctor is discovered and knocked out by Nyder.

When Nyder takes the Doctor back to his cell, another scientist, Kavell, knocks out a guard and frees the TARDIS crew and Gharman. In addition to the Time Ring, the Doctor must now retrieve the tape recording with knowledge of the future. As fighting breaks out between Davros's supports and Gharman's, Davros surrenders. Davros agrees to abort the Dalek project, but wants a vote to be taken on the issue. The Doctor enters the Dalek incubator room and sets up an explosive to destroy the Daleks forever, but staggers out with several embryonic Dalek mutants strangling him....

Part Six

The Doctor frees himself with Harry and Sarah's help, but finds himself unable to set off the explosives and commit genocide. He tells Sarah that many future worlds became allies because of their fear of the Daleks. If he wipes the Daleks out, he becomes no better than them. When Gharman tells the Doctor of Davros's agreement, he disconnects the wires to attend the meeting.

As Davros and Gharman argue their positions, the Daleks re-enter the bunker, secretly followed by Bettan's rebels, who set up explosives to entomb the Daleks. The TARDIS crew force Nyder to show them where the recording is, but even as the Doctor destroys it, Nyder locks them in the room. Gharman and his faction are killed by the Daleks. Meanwhile, Severin has entered the bunker to warn the Doctor about Bettan's plan and frees them from the room. The Doctor, having retrieved the Time Ring, goes to the incubator room to finish what he started earlier, and the explosives are set off when a Dalek glides forward and completes the circuit with its metal body. The Doctor makes it through the bunker entrance before Bettan's explosives go off, sealing the bunker for a thousand years.

Davros notices that the Dalek automated assembly line has started without his orders. The Daleks no longer obey him; their programming does not allow them to acknowledge any creature as their superior. The Daleks kill Nyder as he tries to alter the assembly and then Davros's supporters. Davros pleads to them that he is the creator and the Daleks will obey him, but the Daleks tell him that they obey no one. Davros attempts to destroy the bunker with a destruct button, but is seemingly killed by the Daleks before he can do so. Despite their entombment, the lead Dalek declares that they will emerge and become the supreme power in the universe.

The Doctor acknowledges that even with the incubator room gone, he has only managed to retard the Daleks' progress by a thousand years or so. As the travellers use the Time Ring to spin away into time and space, Sarah asks the Doctor why he does not seem disappointed. The Doctor replies that although the Daleks will create havoc and destruction for millions of years, he knows that out of their evil must come something good…

Cast notes

  • Guy Siner, who played Ravon, and Hilary Minster, who played a Thal soldier (and who had previously played a Thal in Planet of the Daleks), both later became famous for leading roles in the situation comedy 'Allo 'Allo!, in which the two actors played Nazi officers. The actors had also appeared in that programme's inspiration, Secret Army, also playing Nazis.
  • Guy Siner also went onto appear in Star Trek: Enterprise in the episode "Silent Enemy" as Stuart Reed, the father of Lieutenant Malcolm Reed. John Franklyn-Robbins, who played the unnamed Time Lord in the opening scenes of Genesis, would also go on to appear in Star Trek. He took the role of Macias in Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Preemptive Strike". To date, only eight other actors have had speaking roles in both the Doctor Who and Star Trek franchises.
  • Richard Reeves and Hillary Minster also appeared as accused and prosecuter respectively in a naval court-martial in the Upstairs, Downstairs episode "Facing Fearful Odds". Richard Reeves also featured in Secret Army, but as a fugitive English airman. Stephen Yardley and Pat Gorman were also in Secret Army as Max Brocard and a prison guard.
  • Timothy Blackstone, who has an uncredited role as a Thal Soldier, was a regular in "blue" films at the time, appearing in 1970s hardcore porn shorts such as Desire, Non-Stop Spunker and Gypsies Curse. The brother of Tessa Blackstone, Baroness Blackstone, he was convicted of insider trading in 2003.[1]


  • This serial forms part of a continuous series of adventures for the TARDIS crew, beginning from the end of Robot and continuing through to Terror of the Zygons, although the Virgin Missing Adventures novel A Device of Death takes place in a possible gap between Genesis of the Daleks and Revenge of the Cybermen, and the Past Doctor Adventures novel Wolfsbane is set in another such gap between Revenge and Zygons.
  • The TARDIS does not appear at all in this story, being only mentioned in Part One. This did not happen again until the 2008 story Midnight (Doctor Who).
  • In Part One, Sarah refers to "the beacon", which is apparently intended to be a reference to Space Station Nerva (The Ark in Space). However, the space station does not serve as a beacon in that story, and is not called a beacon until the following story, Revenge of the Cybermen.[2] The error probably occurred because Revenge was recorded before Genesis.
  • The Dalek defeats that the Doctor mentions in his interrogation include an invasion in "the year 2000" when the Daleks tried to mine the magnetic core of the Earth (a reference to The Dalek Invasion of Earth, although that took place in the 22nd century). He attributes the Daleks' defeat to the core's "magnetic properties", though in fact magnetism only played a part in the movie version, Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D., which is not a part of Doctor Who canon. The Doctor also mentions a Dalek invasion of Mars (noted in the Virgin New Adventures novel GodEngine by Craig Hinton) and an invasion of Venus that was halted in the "Space Year 17,000" by a fleet of ships from the planet Hyperon.
  • The novelisation of The Evil of the Daleks by John Peel suggests that the very first Dalek seen is the one that exterminates Davros at the end of this story and eventually becomes the Dalek Prime mentioned in Peel's novelisation of The Daleks' Master Plan and then the Dalek Emperor seen in Evil. However the continuity of the story novelisations in relation to its source material of the TV episodes, is unclear.
  • The Daleks and the Time Lords are later involved in a destructive Time War, alluded to in the 2005 series. Executive producer Russell T Davies commented in an episode of Doctor Who Confidential that the origins of the Time War date back to this story, where the Time Lords struck first. Davies also made reference to this attempted genocide as a root of the Time War in a text piece in the Doctor Who Annual 2006. The Doctor's own internal struggle with the morality of wiping out the entire Dalek race is revisited to a degree in the 2005 series episodes "Dalek" and "The Parting of the Ways" and is a story point in the 2008 season finale "Journey's End".
  • The 2006 four part audio series I, Davros depicts Davros' early life, from his childhood, right up to a few weeks before Genesis of the Daleks. Peter Miles reprises his role as Nyder in fourth episode, Guilt.
  • One of the prototype Daleks states that "pity" is not registered in its vocabulary banks and it has no understanding of the word, in response to Davros's pleas for them to spare the Kaled scientists. In the episode "Dalek", as the Doctor electrocutes the captive Dalek, it cries out "Have pity!", echoing Davros. Later, in the episode "Doomsday", when the parallel earth Cybermen refer to the Daleks' casings as "inelegant", Dalek Thay responds that "Daleks have no concept of 'elegance'."
  • This story was referenced in the 2008 episode "Journey's End", when Davros again meets Sarah Jane, recognising her and commenting on her presence at the birth of the Daleks.
  • Sarah is wearing low heeled black shoes at the start of Episode One, but she seems to have changed into high heeled pink boots by the time she's being stalked by Mutos in the Wasteland, and she's certainly wearing these by the time the sadistic Thal guard is dangling her off the top of the rocket. Where she finds the boots is a mystery.


Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewership
(in millions)
"Part One" 8 March 1975 (1975-03-08) 24:30 10.7
"Part Two" 15 March 1975 (1975-03-15) 24:51 10.5
"Part Three" 22 March 1975 (1975-03-22) 22:38 8.5
"Part Four" 29 March 1975 (1975-03-29) 23:38 8.8
"Part Five" 5 April 1975 (1975-04-05) 23:27 9.8
"Part Six" 12 April 1975 (1975-04-12) 23:30 9.1
  • The title for the story when commissioned was Daleks — Genesis of Terror.
  • Part Two is unusual in that it is one of the very few episodes not to begin with a reprise, and also one of the few to end in a freeze frame.


The DVD version of Genesis of the Daleks released in 2006

The serial is described as "one of the most popular of all time" by the Outpost Gallifrey episode guide,[6] and as "a gem of a story" by David Howe and Stephen James Walker in their Doctor Who Television Companion[7], and in a 1998 poll of readers by Doctor Who Magazine, over 2500 voters placed Genesis at the top of a poll to find the greatest Doctor Who stories of all time, and it has regularly featured in the top-tens of other similar polls down the years, such as in 2004 when it topped Doctor Who Magazine 's "greatest Doctor Who story ever" vote. However at the time of broadcast, there were some complaints about the level of violence portrayed. Mary Whitehouse's National Viewers' and Listeners' Association complained that Genesis contained "tea-time brutality for tots".[8]

Outside references

The Time Lord who appears at the story's beginning is costumed to resemble Death in Ingmar Bergman's film The Seventh Seal.[9] Gareth Roberts has compared this character to the ghost of Hamlet's father, setting the protagonist (the Doctor) on a violent mission with which he has moral qualms.[9]

Dalek creator Terry Nation based the Daleks on the Nazis, and this episode abounds with deliberate parallels.[10] A madman leads his own race to its destruction. He is supported by security services that ride roughshod over the military and anybody else that gets in their way. They dress wholly in black, and salute each other by raising their hands and clicking the heels of their boots together. Their bespectacled leader, Nyder, is cold-hearted and ruthless, and even wears an Iron Cross in earlier episodes before the medal later disappears from his costume. Much of the action takes place in "the Bunker".

The discussion between the Doctor and Davros about the hypothetical viral weapon is regarded as a classic moment from Doctor Who.[11] The debate is reproduced almost word for word as a homage in the computer game Discworld Noir.[citation needed]

Martin Wiggins, senior lecturer and fellow at the Shakespeare Institute at Stratford-upon-Avon, suggests that the Doctor's indecision about destroying the Dalek embryos in the "have I the right?" scene is derived from The Brothers Karamazov.[9]

In print

Doctor Who book
Book cover
Doctor Who and the Genesis of the Daleks
Series Target novelisations
Release number 27
Writer Terrance Dicks
Publisher Target Books
Cover artist Chris Achilleos
ISBN 0-426-11260-1
Release date 22 July 1976
Preceded by Doctor Who and the Revenge of the Cybermen
Followed by Doctor Who and the Web of Fear

A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in July 1976. From 1983 it was designated number 27 in the series, although it was not until 1991 that an edition was released bearing that number. According to the DVD Text commentary, the "Genesis of the Daleks" novelsiation has the largest print run of any of the original series.

Broadcast, LP, CD, VHS & DVD releases

  • This story was repeated on BBC One as an 89min omnibus over Christmas 1975 (26/12/1975) and (27/12/1975) at 3.00pm, and again on BBC One (Not BBC Wales) as two 45min compilation episodes in 1982 (26/07/82) & (02/08/82) at 7.25pm as part of "Doctor Who and the Monsters". It was also repeated in episodic form in 1993 and 2000, both on BBC2. This makes it the most repeated Doctor Who story on British terrestrial television. It was also been repeated on the BBC's digital television channel BBC Choice in 1998.
  • In 1979, the BBC released a condensed audio version of this serial as an LP. Tom Baker recorded newly written narration for this release. In 1988, this recording would be reissued by BBC Audio alongside a later radio play, Slipback. It was subsequently released on CD in a revised and expanded version by BBC Audio paired with Exploration Earth: The Time Machine in 2001.
  • The serial was released on VHS by BBC Enterprises in 1991 with The Sontaran Experiment, and again as part of a box set of stories featuring Davros in 2001.
  • It was released on DVD in the United Kingdom by BBC Worldwide on April 10, 2006 and in the United States by Warner Home Video on June 6, 2006 as a two disc special edition. Both sound and picture were digitally remastered. Special features included 'Genesis of a Classic', a documentary about the making of this story, 'The Dalek Tapes', a 55 minute feature which tells the story of the Daleks, a commentary with Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Peter Miles and David Maloney, plus a photo gallery. It is available on its own or as part of a box set along with Destiny of the Daleks, Resurrection of the Daleks, Revelation of the Daleks and Remembrance of the Daleks.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Cornell, Paul; Day, Martin; Topping, Keith (1995). "Genesis of the Daleks" (reprinted on BBC Doctor Who website). The Discontinuity Guide. London: Virgin Books. p. 172. ISBN 0-426-20442-5. Retrieved 21 April 2009. 
  3. ^ Shaun Lyon et al. (2007-03-31). "Genesis of the Daleks". Outpost Gallifrey. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  4. ^ "Genesis of the Daleks". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  5. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2007-08-07). "Genesis of the Daleks". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  6. ^ Genesis of the Daleks at Outpost Gallifrey
  7. ^ Howe, David J & Walker, Stephen James (1998). Doctor Who: The Television Companion (1st ed. ed.). London: BBC Books. ISBN 978-0-563-40588-7. 
  8. ^ Genesis of the Daleks at Doctor Who: A Brief History Of Time (Travel)
  9. ^ a b c Sweet, Matthew (2008-07-20). "Who is Hamlet: Playing the Time Lord is perfect preparation for David Tennant's new role". The Independent. Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  10. ^ Levine, Ian (Director). (2006-04-10). Genesis of a Classic. [Documentary accompanying Genesis of the Daleks DVD]. BBC Worldwide. Event occurs at 13:35. 
  11. ^ Levine, Ian (Director). (2006-04-10). Genesis of a Classic. [Documentary accompanying Genesis of the Daleks DVD]. BBC Worldwide. Event occurs at 18:0. 

External links


Target novelisation


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